What happened to the political antennae

At a time when young couples are finding it difficult to afford a homes, when families are cutting back on non-essentials and those approaching retirement age are realising that their pensions are going to be worth a fraction of what they expected, some of our MPs show themselves to be out of tune with the times by awarding themselves frankly ridiculous expenses.

I have been in businesses as an employee and business owner for many years. Anyone who submitted an expenses claim without a full VAT receipt was always likely to have their claim turned down. Let alone if they claimed for bath plugs, blue movies, or security patrols.

That insistence on producing a receipt surely gets over the “John Lewis list” problem, where MPs claim for goodies for their second home based on a notional price taken from the catalogue of John Lewis.

Today The Press and Journal – not known for its indulgence in sensational journalism – has a ‘rogues gallery’ of Cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister himself, mired in accusations about expenses.

What is particularly disturbing about this is that politicians are supposed to be able to represent the public. To do so they must understand the public mood.

Well they got that all wrong didn’t they? Otherwise this farcical expenses system would have been scrapped years ago.

Yet, those same politicians would be among the first speak out about others getting dubious perks and expenses.

David Dimbleby resonated with the public mood when he rounded on one politician who strove to justify his second home because he lived 37 miles from Westminster and had to be in the house at particular times. “Like a job?,” Dimbleby snapped back.

Yes, it is just a job. We are indirectly the employers. And our politicians should be answerable to us and subject to the same checks and rules as any employee submitting an expenses claim.

Is the claim for something that is genuinely essential for them to carry out their job? Or is it something that they desire for their own comfort and convenience. It it is they latter they should pay it themselves. They are paid a reasonably generous salary, after all.



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